Tesla, Inc. is an American multinational automotive and clean energy company headquartered in Austin, Texas. Tesla designs and manufactures electric vehicles (electric cars and trucks), battery energy storage from home to grid-scale, solar panels and solar roof tiles, and related products and services. Tesla is one of the world’s most valuable companies and, as of 2023, is the world’s most valuable automaker. In 2022, the company had the most worldwide sales of battery electric vehicles, capturing 18% of the market. Through its subsidiary Tesla Energy, the company develops and is a major installer of photovoltaic systems in the United States. Tesla Energy is also one of the largest global suppliers of battery energy storage systems, with 6.5 gigawatt-hours (GWh) installed in 2022.
Tesla was incorporated in July 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning as Tesla Motors. The company’s name is a tribute to inventor and electrical engineer Nikola Tesla. In February 2004, via a $6.5 million investment, Elon Musk became the largest shareholder of the company. He has served as CEO since 2008. According to Musk, the purpose of Tesla is to help expedite the move to sustainable transport and energy, obtained through electric vehicles and solar power. Tesla began production of its first car model, the Roadster sports car, in 2008. This was followed by the Model S sedan in 2012, the Model X SUV in 2015, the Model 3 sedan in 2017, the Model Y crossover in 2020, and the Tesla Semi truck in 2022. The company plans production of the Cybertruck light-duty pickup truck in 2023. The Model 3 is the all-time bestselling plug-in electric car worldwide, and in June 2021 became the first electric car to sell 1 million units globally. Tesla’s 2022 full year deliveries were around 1.31 million vehicles, a 40% increase over the previous year, and cumulative sales totaled 3 million cars as of August 2022. In October 2021, Tesla’s market capitalization reached $1 trillion, the sixth company to do so in U.S. history.
Tesla has been the subject of several lawsuits, government scrutiny, journalistic criticism, and public controversies arising from statements and acts of CEO Elon Musk and from allegations of whistleblower retaliation, worker rights violations, and defects with their products.
“Tesla Motors History
Tesla Motors was incorporated in July 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, who financed the company until the Series A round of funding. Both men played active roles in the company’s early development prior to Elon Musk’s involvement. Musk led the Series A round of investment in February 2004, joining Tesla’s Board of Directors as its Chairman. Tesla’s primary goal was to commercialize electric vehicles, starting with a premium sports car aimed at early adopters and then moving as rapidly as possible into more mainstream vehicles, including sedans and affordable compacts.
Musk took an active role within the company and oversaw Roadster product design at a detailed level, but was not deeply involved in day-to-day business operations; Eberhard acknowledged that Musk was the person who insisted from the beginning on a carbon fiber body and he led design of components ranging from the power electronics module to the headlamps and other styling. In addition to his daily operational roles, Musk was the controlling investor in Tesla from the first financing round, funding the large majority of the Series A capital investment round of US$7.5 million with personal funds. From the beginning, Musk consistently maintained that Tesla’s long-term strategic goal was to create affordable mass market electric vehicles. Musk received the Global Green 2006 product design award for his design of the Tesla Roadster, presented by Mikhail Gorbachev, and he received the 2007 Index Design award for his design of the Tesla Roadster.
Musk’s Series A round included Compass Technology Partners and SDL Ventures, as well as many private investors. Musk later led Tesla Motors’ Series B, US$13 million, investment round that added Valor Equity Partners to the funding team. Musk co-led the third,US$40 million round in May 2006 along with Technology Partners. Tesla’s third round included investment from prominent entrepreneurs including Google co-founders Sergey Brin & Larry Page, former eBay President Jeff Skoll, Hyatt heir Nick Pritzker and added the VC firmsDraper Fisher Jurvetson, Capricorn Management and The Bay Area Equity Fund managed by JPMorgan Chase. The fourth round in May 2007 added another US$45 million and brought the total investments to over US$105 million through private financing.
In December 2007, Ze’ev Drori became CEO and President. In January 2008, Tesla fired several key personnel who had been involved from the inception after a performance review by the new CEO. According to Musk, Tesla was forced to reduce the company workforce by about 10% to lower its burn rate, which was out of control in 2007. The fifth round in February 2008 added another US$40 million. Musk had contributed US$70 million of his own money to the company by this time. In October 2008, Musk succeeded Drori as CEO. Drori became Vice Chairman, but then left the company in December. By January 2009, Tesla had raised US$187 million and delivered 147 cars. On May 19, 2009, Germany’s Daimler AG, maker of Mercedes-Benz, acquired an equity stake of less than 10% of Tesla for a reported US$50 million. In July 2009, Daimler announced that Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments bought 40% of Daimler’s interest in Tesla.
In June 2009 Tesla was approved to receive US$465 million in interest-bearing loans from the United States Department of Energy. The funding, part of the US$8 billion Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, supports engineering and production of the Model S sedan, as well as the development of commercial powertrain technology. The low-interest loans are not related to the “bailout” funds that GM and Chrysler received, nor are they related to the 2009 economic stimulus package. The loan program was created in 2007 during the George W. Bush administration. Tesla repaid the loan in May 2013. Tesla was the first car company to have fully repaid the government, while Ford, Nissan and Fisker had not.
The company announced in early August 2009 that it had achieved overall corporate profitability for the month of July 2009. The company said it earned approximately US$1 million on revenue of US$20 million. Profitability arose primarily from improved gross margin on the 2010 Roadster, the second iteration of Tesla’s award-winning sports car. Tesla, which like all automakers records revenue when products are delivered, shipped a record 109 vehicles in July and reported a surge in new Roadster purchases. In September 2009, Tesla announced an US$82.5 million round to accelerate Tesla’s retail expansion. Daimler participated in the round to maintain equity ownership from its initial investment.
Tesla Motors signed a production contract on July 11, 2005 with Group Lotus to produce “gliders” (complete cars minus powertrain).The contract ran through March 2011, but the two automakers extended the deal to keep the electric Roadster in production through December 2011 with a minimum number of 2,400 units, when production ended, mostly because of tooling changes orchestrated by one of its suppliers. In June 2010, it was reported that Tesla sold a total of US$12.2 million zero emission vehicle credits to other automakers, including Honda, up to March 31, 2010.
2010 initial public offering
On January 29, 2010, Tesla Motors filed Form S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, as a preliminary prospectus indicating its intention to file an initial public offering (IPO) underwritten by Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, J. P. Morgan, and Deutsche Bank Securities. On May 21, 2010, Tesla announced a “strategic partnership” with Toyota, which agreed to purchase US$50 million in Tesla common stock issued in a private placement to close immediately after the IPO. Executives at both companies said that they would cooperate on “the development of electric vehicles, parts, and production system and engineering support.” Less than two months later, Toyota and Tesla confirmed that their first platform collaboration would be to build an electric version of the RAV4 EV.
On June 29, 2010 Tesla Motors launched its initial public offering on NASDAQ. The IPO raised US$226 million for the company.It was the first American car maker to go public since the Ford Motor Company had its IPO in 1956. During November 2013, Tesla’s stock fell more than 20 percent, following news of a third Model S fire. Despite the drop, Tesla was still the top performer on the Nasdaq 100 index in 2013. Tesla is seeking to sell 40,000 electric vehicles worldwide in 2014, adding China to its export plans.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced in a press release and conference call on June 12, 2014, that the company will allow its technology patents for use by anyone in good faith.This move was praised by some in the business press, for exhibiting “long-term thinking”.”
*Information from Teslamotors.com and Wikipedia.org
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